Second German district to enter lockdown after spike in coronavirus cases

BERLIN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Residents of a district in the German state of Bavaria will from Tuesday be banned from leaving their homes without a valid reason and schools and kindergartens will shut for two weeks due to spiralling COVID-19 infections, officials said on Monday.

The lockdown in Rottal-Inn, home to some 120,000 people, will be the second imposed in Germany on a local basis since April, after Berchtesgaden, 110 km to the south in the Bavarian Alps. Berchtesgaden has been in lockdown since Oct. 20.

Officials in Rottal-Inn said in a statement the decision was made after a spike in coronavirus cases in the district to more than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days.

Germany, as a whole, reported 8,685 new cases on Monday, with the death toll rising by 24 to 10,056 and an infection rate of 74.9 per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, eager to avoid a second national lockdown that would jeopardise a fragile recovery of Europe’s largest economy, urged Germans at the weekend to curb their social contacts and keep travel to a minimum.

The COVID-19 situation in Germany, however, remains less serious than in other major European countries like Britain, France and Spain. France, which has imposed night-time curfews on major cities, on Sunday reported a record 52,010 new confirmed coronavirus infections in the space of 24 hours. (Reporting by Joseph Nasr Editing by Mark Heinrich)